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Ask Takudzwa 9 – A Bridge for All Automobiles, A Boat for Every Passenger: Racism Between Africans and Managing Frayed Ties


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Canadian Atheist

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/10/09

Takudzwa Mazwienduna is the informal leader of Zimbabwean Secular Alliance and a member of the Humanist Society of Zimbabwe. This educational series will explore secularism in Zimbabwe from an organizational perspectiveand some more.

Here we talk about building ties, mending relations, working together, and more.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: When we’re looking into the racism experienced in the history of South Africa into the present moment, as you noted, even though the ongoing progressive advancements of secularism continue, this seems like one of the more obvious examples with the whites or Afrikaaners, the mixed race or the Coloreds, the non-indigenous blacks or Blacks, and the indigenous blacks or the Khoe-San. What about less blatant forms of racism between different sociological categories, different ethnic groupings in Zimbabwe, for example?

Takudzwa Mazwienduna: I never really thought about racism until I moved to South Africa. Prior to that, racism was something I only heard about in the movies or when I read history books. South Africa on the other hand is the most racist country in the world and Apartheid was invented there, so it was very shocking when I first moved here 2 years ago. There is no racism in Zimbabwe. There is no animosity between black and white Zimbabweans and they share the same culture; something the former president Robert Mugabe is credited for through his reconciliation movement in the 1980s. There is one episode however that that looked a lot like racial tensions to the outside world because of how the media reported it: the Land reform program where farms were forcibly taken from mostly white farmers by the government. In reality, it was not a race thing as the media portrayed it, the Commercial Farmers Union had helped sponsor an opposition party and it was the Totalitarian regime’s way of getting back at them. Black owned farms were seized in the process too showing that it was not a race issue. Zimbabwe has a lot of political problems because of the totalitarianism of the ruling party, race is not one of them however.

Jacobsen: What does a humanistic and freethought worldview provide as an antidote to these tensions if they exist?

Mazwienduna: The Zimbabwean traditional culture is very humanistic in nature. Zimbabwean manners are called “unhu” which translates to “being human” which is basically the same as Humanism. Zimbabweans are famous for being polite, friendly and welcoming. It is one of the reasons why racism does not exist and even the government’s authoritarianism doesn’t inspire any significant violent backslash from the peace loving people. Notable social problems in post colonial Zimbabwe however all come from Christianity; religious bigotry, especially homophobia and misogyny being at the top of the list. Traditionalist societies without much Christian influence rarely have problems with bigotry.

Jacobsen: How can the humanist community, though scattered, provide a different narrative than those seen in the past for the Zimbabweans?

Mazwienduna: The Humanist movement can restore the essence of our peaceful culture and remind Zimbabweans that “unhu” (also called Ubuntu in East Africa) is our greatest strength and the most significant attribute of our society.

Jacobsen: How can Humanists International and other organizations, or interested individuals, provide some financial or other support to these current efforts to bring the community under a common humanist banner – without regard, but with reasonable sensitivity, to ethnic differences and probable tensions in Zimbabwe?

Mazwienduna: Humanist International and other organizations can help us with awareness campaigns. We need a louder voice to remind people that our law is secular and our culture is Humanist. Misgovernance and Christian religious bigotry make people forget that.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Takudzwa.

Mazwienduna: It’s always a pleasure Scott!


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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